Top Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer: Compassionate Advocacy for Your Loved One

Seeking a Georgia wrongful death lawyer means you’re ready to take legal action on a devastating loss. You need to know your rights, the process for filing a claim, and the support a dedicated law firm like Scholle Law, can offer. This article provides straightforward guidance on pursuing a wrongful death claim in Georgia, ensuring you understand the essentials without facing the legal complexities alone.

Key Takeaways

  • Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act allows families to seek compensation through a claim when a loved one’s death results from another’s wrongful acts, requiring plaintiffs to establish the defendant’s negligence or harmful intent, duty of care, breach of duty, and that the breach led to death.
  • A Georgia wrongful death attorney’s role includes navigating the complexity of cases, determining claim value, handling insurance negotiations, and proving liability with substantial evidence like police reports, expert witnesses, and investigation findings.
  • Wrongful death claims in Georgia include compensatory damages for both economic and non-economic losses, and in certain egregious cases, punitive damages may be awarded; however, punitive damages in wrongful death claims are subject to statutory caps unless specific conditions apply.

Understanding Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law

In Georgia, a wrongful death is defined as a death caused by the intentional, reckless, negligent, or criminal acts of another person or entity. The state’s Wrongful Death Act gives families the right to seek justice through a wrongful death claim if a person is killed due to the wrongful act of another person or company. This law is designed to compensate the family members for the full value of the life of their loved one lost due to the wrongful act.

Every life is unique, and accordingly, each wrongful death case is unique. While there are some similarities between wrongful death claims and personal injury claims, the former necessitates demonstrating specific characteristics related to the context of the death. We will now explore the critical components of a wrongful death claim in Georgia. 

Key Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia

In a wrongful death claim in Georgia, the plaintiff must establish that:

  1. The defendant’s negligence or intent to harm contributed to the death.
  2. The defendant had a duty of care toward the deceased.
  3. There was a breach of this duty.
  4. The breach resulted in death.

The entity that may be sued in a wrongful death claim, known as the tortfeasor, can be a person, persons, or a corporation identified as the party that committed the wrongdoing.

Who is Eligible to File for Wrongful Death?

In Georgia, the following individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death claim, in the mentioned order of priority:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents of the deceased
  4. Representative of the deceased’s estate

The surviving spouse, representing any minor children, receives at least one-third of any recovered damages. If no spouse or children survive, the deceased’s parents or estate representative may proceed with the claim.

It’s worth noting that a common-law wife cannot file for wrongful death if there is a legally recognized spouse surviving the deceased.

Statute of Limitations: Timing Your Claim

The clock starts ticking from the date of the loved one’s death, with a typical statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia being two years. However, if the defendant is a government entity, the claim may need to be filed within a shorter period.

Starting the legal process promptly is vital, given that exceeding the statute of limitations deadline could lead to the forfeiture of the lawsuit filing right. 

The Role of an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney

Expert wrongful death attorneys are essential to navigate Georgia’s wrongful death cases due to their complexity. They are proficient in identifying and proving the negligent parties, collecting, and preserving crucial evidence that demonstrates the negligence leading to wrongful death. In the process of handling Georgia wrongful death lawsuits, these attorneys play a crucial role in achieving justice for the victims and their families.

An experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer is also instrumental in determining the value of a wrongful death claim through careful evaluation of the damages suffered by both the deceased and their family. Moreover, Atlanta wrongful death attorneys are skilled negotiators, engaging with opposing counsel to reach settlements that fully compensate the family’s losses. 

Assessing and Proving Liability

To prove liability in a wrongful death claim, it should be shown that the defendant had a legal duty towards the deceased, which they breached, leading to wrongful death. Lawyers use various kinds of evidence to establish negligence or wrongdoing, including:

  • Police reports
  • Safety training brochures
  • Instruction manuals
  • Vehicle black box data

Additionally, expert witnesses like accident reconstruction experts play a pivotal role by analyzing the evidence from the accident scene. To protect clients from being unfairly assigned a higher percentage of fault, attorneys must correctly apply comparative or contributory negligence laws.

Calculating the Value of Life and Losses

The value of a wrongful death claim is determined through the evaluation of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include current value projections of the decedent’s future earnings, adjusted for inflation and career advancements, without deducting personal expenses or taxes. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are assessed through the jury’s interpretation of intangible aspects such as family, relationships, and life passions.

However, the process of monetarily valuing a life and considering medical and funeral expenses is inherently complex.

Handling Insurance Companies and Settlement Negotiations

A wrongful death attorney’s role often involves interactions with insurance companies and settlement negotiations. The negotiation usually begins with a detailed demand letter to the insurer, outlining the case specifics and the desired compensation. Lawyers employ professional investigators to collect robust evidence that underscores the victim’s accident-related losses and establishes liability.

A skilled attorney can:

  • Exert pressure on insurance companies, who often seek to avoid the expenses of a trial by offering fair settlements
  • Challenge insurers who may attempt to deny claims or limit payouts
  • Provide experienced legal advocacy to challenge tactics used by insurance companies 

Types of Damages in Georgia Wrongful Death Claims

In Georgia, compensatory damages in wrongful death claims include both economic and non-economic damages.

Surviving family members can file two types of claims in Georgia: Wrongful death claim for the full value of the life of the decedent, and an estate claim for elements such as the decedent’s pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses, and property damage 

Compensatory Damages: Economic and Non-Economic

Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, can be quantified in absolute dollar amounts and cover financial recovery for tangible losses. This includes the current value projections of the decedent’s future earnings and benefits, as well as earning capacity.

On the other hand, non-economic damages in Georgia wrongful death claims may include the value of lost parental guidance, companionship, and protection for surviving family members.

Seeking Punitive Damages in Extreme Cases

In extreme cases, such as when the defendant’s actions were intentional or involved DUI, punitive damages may be pursued. These are awarded when clear and convincing evidence shows:

  • willful misconduct
  • malice
  • fraud
  • wantonness
  • a total lack of care indicating conscious indifference to consequences.

In Georgia, statutory punitive damages are awarded in connection with the estate’s claims for pre-death injuries and pain, but not within the wrongful death claim itself. However, Georgia law caps non-product liability punitive damage awards at $250,000 unless the defendant displayed the intent to harm or was impaired by alcohol, drugs, or toxic vapors.  

Navigating Complex Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases can arise from various fatal incidents, including car accidents, which are among the most common causes. These cases often involve complex legal and factual issues that require the expertise of a skilled wrongful death attorney. Building a strong case involves gathering crucial evidence such as police reports, eyewitness testimonies, medical records, and expert opinions.

The cause of wrongful death, whether it’s medical malpractice, a car accident, or a criminal act, can influence the claim’s outcome due to the nuances of each case type. We will now examine some specific scenarios in detail.  

Medical Malpractice Leading to Wrongful Death

In wrongful death cases due to medical negligence, expert witnesses, such as medical professionals, play a crucial role in establishing liability. These experts help elucidate complex medical concepts to a judge or jury. Cases may result from various types of medical malpractice, including:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Botched surgeries
  • Prescription of the wrong medication
  • Use of defective medical equipment

Witness testimony can provide support for the patient’s version of the events leading to the wrongful death.

Fatal Car Accidents: A Common Cause of Wrongful Deaths

Car accidents are among the common causes of wrongful death claims. In such cases, accident reconstruction is a fundamental step as it helps clarify the events leading to the fatality and determine liability. Attorneys may utilize technology, such as accident reconstruction software, to create a compelling narrative of how the accident occurred.

It is also essential to preserve crucial evidence, including the vehicles involved, to enable a detailed examination and aid the reconstruction process.

Criminal Acts Resulting in Civil Wrongful Death Actions

Criminal acts resulting in death can justify civil wrongful death actions, where proving negligence or intentional harm is necessary, under a lower standard of proof than criminal cases. Even if a related criminal case is pending, surviving family members may still pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

However, in cases of wrongful death stemming from criminal acts, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by specific family members or representatives, who must show that family members have experienced harm due to the decedent’s death. 

Choosing the Right Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer

Choosing an apt attorney for a wrongful death case significantly impacts the outcome. Attorneys specializing in wrongful death claims are adept at handling their unique complexities in Georgia. It’s advisable to steer clear of lawyers who make excessive promises, which could indicate inexperience or a lack of grasp of wrongful death law specifics.

Experience is key, as it provides an attorney with a deep understanding of the legal details relevant to your case. Before choosing an attorney, conduct thorough research, including seeking recommendations, reading online reviews, and learning about past client experiences. Also, consider the fees charged by wrongful death attorneys and ensure clarity on the fee structure to avoid unanticipated costs.  

What to Look for in a Law Firm

Selecting the right law firm requires considering multiple factors. Look for firms with positive online reviews and ratings, indicating their proficiency in handling Georgia wrongful death cases and client satisfaction. Transparency in their fee structure is also essential for potential clients to comprehend the costs associated with pursuing a wrongful death case.

Furthermore, law firms should provide evidence of their legal qualifications, such as licensure and academic achievements, to establish their capability in managing wrongful death cases.

The Importance of a Free Legal Consultation

A free initial consultation is a standard practice among law firms specializing in wrongful death cases. It allows potential clients to:

  • Understand the firm’s professionalism
  • Ask relevant questions without any time or financial obligations
  • Build a relationship between the client and attorney
  • Ensure the lawyer’s approach aligns with the client’s expectations and preferences

These consultations are crucial for ensuring a successful attorney-client relationship.

The consultation also provides a platform for the attorney to evaluate the case’s merits and discuss possible challenges, providing a realistic perspective to the client. In addition to case assessment, the consultation is an opportunity to inquire about legal fees, payment structures, and any potential discounts. 


Navigating the complexities of a wrongful death claim in Georgia can be a daunting task. However, with the right knowledge and legal representation, you can seek justice for your loved one and obtain the compensation you deserve. In this guide, we’ve explored Georgia’s wrongful death laws, the role of an attorney, the types of damages you can claim, and how to navigate complex wrongful death cases. We’ve also provided guidance on choosing the right attorney to represent you in your case.

Choosing to pursue a wrongful death claim is a significant decision that requires careful thought and preparation. It’s vital to select an attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases and possesses a deep understanding of the unique complexities and legal details relevant to your case. Remember, a free initial consultation can provide valuable insights into a law firm’s professionalism and approach, helping you make an informed decision. Stay strong and remember, you’re not alone in this journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can sue for wrongful death in Georgia?

In Georgia, the surviving family members have the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim if a person is killed by the wrongful act of another person or business. This allows them to bring a claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.”

What are the elements of a wrongful death claim in Georgia?

In Georgia, the four elements of a wrongful death claim include,

  1. Negligence: The plaintiff must prove that the death of their loved one was caused by the reckless, careless, negligent, or intentional actions of the defendant. This involves showing that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to the deceased.
  2. Breach of Duty: It must be established that the defendant owed a duty to the deceased. For example, a driver on the road has a duty to drive responsibly, and a doctor has a duty to provide competent medical care. The plaintiff must show that this duty was breached through the defendant’s negligent actions.
  3. Causation: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the death of their loved one. This means showing a direct link between the defendant’s actions (or inactions) and the death.
  4. Damages: The death must have generated quantifiable damages. This can include loss of income and potential earnings, loss of companionship or consortium before they died.

These elements form the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia, and proving each of these is essential for a successful claim. Legal representation is often crucial in such cases, as wrongful death claims can be complex and require a thorough understanding of the law.

What are general damages for wrongful death?

In wrongful death cases, general damages can include compensation for the loss of companionship and financial support over the deceased’s life expectancy. Juries factor in the person’s income, expected future income, and the level of family members’ dependence when awarding damages.

What is the difference between wrongful death and survival action in Georgia?

The main difference between wrongful death and survival action in Georgia is that compensation in a wrongful death claim goes directly to the surviving family members, while in a survival action, it goes to the decedent’s estate. This can impact who receives the compensation and how it is distributed within the family or estate.

What is the role of a wrongful death attorney?

A wrongful death attorney plays a crucial role in identifying and proving the negligent parties responsible for a loved one’s death, while also determining the value of the claim and negotiating fair settlements with insurance companies.